Steven Brown saves best for last to earn first European win at Portugal Masters

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Steven Brown saves best for last to earn first European win at Portugal Masters

Euro Tour

Steven Brown saves best for last to earn first European win at Portugal Masters

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Steven Brown turned up for the Portugal Masters with one eye on the European Tour Qualifying School. Instead he’s preparing to play in the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open as a European Tour winner.

The Englishman arrived in Portugal ranked 150th on the Race to Dubai. Not many would have bet on Brown earning his first European Tour win. He did just that by returning a closing 5-under 66 to post a 17-under 267. It gave him a one-shot victory over 54-hole leader Brandon Stone and Justin Walters.

“It’s hard to put into words really,” Brown said. “I don’t think it’s really sunk in. It was a weird day. You just never know with this game. It’s crazy to think how well I played the last month considering how bad I played the first two thirds of the year.”

The 32-year-old had missed 17 of his previous 28 cuts this season, including one stretch of seven straight, and another five-tournament run without weekend action. However, he arrived for what he thought was his final event of the year after an 11th place finish in the French Open.

“I never thought it was going to happen. I was pretty much just counting down for Tour School and getting ready for that. So it’s just amazing.”

Brown, who played on the victorious 2011 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, built his win at the 11th and 12th holes when he birdied the former and eagled the latter.

“The shot I hit into 12 is probably one of the best shots I’ve ever hit,” Brown said. “It came off perfect. I saw the leaderboard at 13 and saw that Justin (Walters) was playing really well and that Brandon was just ahead of me. I was trying just to keep going. It seemed like everyone fell away really and I just parred in.

“The last few weeks I’ve just had a quite calmness in my head. Today I liked that I had to go for it and I wasn’t just trying to have a good result I just thought I’ve got to seize the chance to actually win the tournament. That’s different from before where I’ve thought well I’m up there have a good week and that’s great. This week it was just do or bust really.”

So Brown extends his season by moving from 150th to 69th on the Race to Dubai to gain a spot in Turkey.

“I went to Turkey as first reserve last year and didn’t get to play, so It’ll be nice to go and play this year.”

Walters kept his European Tour card for next season with his second place finish. It moved him from 121st on the Race to Dubai to 79th with the top 115 keeping their playing rights for next season.

It’s the second time Walters has finished second in Portugal to retain his tour status. The former two-time, All American NC State player did it seven years ago after the death of his mother. This year he had the weight of his father’s death in August sitting heavily on his shoulders.

Min Woo Lee, Niklas Lemke, Clément Sordet, Abraham Ancer and Lee Slattery weren’t so lucky. They lost their cards. So did Hugo Leon of Chile. He returned a closing 68 to finish T-21, but ended the season 116th on the money list.

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